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Serpent and Kundalinee
From JR Group, Mar 2, 2010, by Kulbir Bains

Osho : Why the serpent Symbolism of Kundalinee? Why has the serpent been chosen as a symbol of Kundalinee? Please explain all the reasons. In the symbol used by theosophy, a coiled serpent with his tail in the mouth is shown. In the symbol of the Ramakrishna Mission, the tail of the serpent touches the hood. Please explain the meaning of these?

"The serpent symbol for the Kundalinee is very apt and meaningful. Perhaps there is no better symbol than this. Therefore, not only the Kundalinee but also the serpent has undergone a great many travels in the symbol form. Nowhere in the world is there a religion in which the serpent has not been depicted somewhere. This is because the serpent has many qualities that tally with the Kundalinee.

The very first thing that occurs to the mind at the mention of the serpent is the motion of sliding - crawling. The very first experience of Kundalinee is that of something moving within. You feel as if something has moved within - just as a serpent moves. Another thing that comes to mind with the very notion of a serpent is that it has no legs, yet it moves. It has no means of movement - it is sheer energy - yet it travels. The third thing that comes to the mind is that when a serpent sits, it forms coils. When the Kundalinee lies asleep within us it too rests in the same manner.

When a long thing has to accommodate itself in a small place it has to coil up; there is no other way for it. A very big power is seated on a very small center so it can only coil itself up. Now when the snake gets up it unwinds the coils one by one; as it rises the coil unwinds. In the same way we feel Kundalinee unwinding within when the Kundaline energy rises within us.

The serpent sometimes in playfulness catches its tail in its mouth. This holding of the tail in the mouth is also a significant symbol. This is a valuable symbol and many recognized it as such. It is valuable because it suggests that when the Kundalinee is fully awakened it will become circular and begin to form its own circuit within. Its hood will catch hold of its own tail; the serpent will become a circle. Now when a symbol is made to depict male Saadhanaa, male spiritual practice, it will catch the tail by its mouth; it will be aggressive. If the symbol is arrived at by female Saadhanaa, female spiritual practices, the tail will just be touching the hood. This is a surrendering tail -- one that is not held in the mouth. This is the only difference and no more.

The hood of the serpent also became purposeful. The tail is very narrow whereas the hood is very broad. When Kundalinee awakens fully it reaches up to the Sahasraar. It opens and spreads like the hood of the serpent; it expands enormously. It is as if many flowers bloom in it. Then its tail becomes very small.

When the serpent stands up, it is a wonderful sight; it stands erect on the tip of its tail. It is almost a miracle. The serpent is an invertebrate, a creature with no bones, and yet it can perform this act. It can only be with the help of the vital energy within it, because there is no other substantial means for it to stand erect. It stands by the strength of its own willpower; it has no material strength to rely on. So it is also when the Kundalinee awakens: it has no physical support; it is an immaterial energy.

These were the reasons why the serpent was chosen as a symbol. There are many other reasons too. For instance, it is an innocent creature; hence, the Hindu god Shiv -- who is also called "the innocent Shiv" [Baabaa Bhole Naath] -- carries it on his head. On its own the serpent never troubles anybody, but if it is disturbed it can be very dangerous. The same applies to the Kundalinee. It is a very innocent power; it does not trouble you on its own. But if you disturb it the wrong way you will find yourself in trouble. It can prove very dangerous. So the symbol of a serpent reminds us that it is dangerous to disturb the Kundalinee in the wrong way. Keeping all this in mind, there was no other symbol more apt than that of the serpent.

All over the world the snake stands as the symbol of wisdom. Jesus has said, "Be clever and intelligent like a snake and as innocent as a dove." The snake is a very intelligent creature -- very alert, very watchful and very sharp and quick. These are all its qualities. The Kundalinee is also like this. You reach the ultimate peak of wisdom through it; it is very swift, and also very powerful. In the old days, when this symbol was chosen for the Kundalinee, perhaps there was nothing better than the serpent. Even now there is nothing better.

Perhaps in the future there may be a new symbol -- like the rocket. Some future concept may grasp the Kundalinee as being like the rocket. Its journey is the same; it travels from one sky to another, from one planet to another, and there is void in between. It can become a symbol. The age decides the symbol.

This symbol was chosen when man was very close to the animal kingdom. All our symbols of those times have been taken from animals, because that was all that our knowledge consisted of so we tried to find symbols in them. The serpent was thus the most apt symbol to define the Kundalinee.

In those days we could not say that Kundalinee is like electricity; when we talk today we can say so. Five thousand years ago Kundalinee could not be talked about in terms of electricity because there was no notion of electricity. But the snake has the quality of electricity. This is hard for us to believe because many of us have no experience of the snake. We may have no experience of the Kundalinee whatsoever, but we hardly have any experience of snakes either. The serpent is a myth for us.

Recently a survey was taken in London and it was found that seven hundred thousand children had never seen a cow. Now these children who have not seen a cow cannot possibly have any idea of a snake. So their whole way of thinking and reflecting - and their symbols - will be quite different.

Now the serpent is obsolete: it is no longer an important part of our life. Once upon a time it was very near to us; it was our neighbor and was with us all the twenty-four hours of the day. It was then that man noticed its agility, its intelligence, its movements, and the ease with which it carried itself about. It was then that man realized also how dangerous a creature it could be. There are stories of a serpent guarding an infant, and it is so innocent... There are instances when it has bitten the most fierce person and killed him, so dangerous it can be. So both of these possibilities are in it.

When man was very close to the serpent he must have watched it closely. The subject of Kundalinee also began at about the same time, and both the serpent and the Kundalinee were found similar in their qualities. But all symbols are meaningful, and if they have come to us through the ages there is a suitability, a rhythm in them. But now it is bound to break.

The symbol of the serpent will not last long. We shall not be able to call the Kundalinee serpent power, because now where is the poor serpent? It is no longer our neighbor; we have no connection with it. We do not even see him on the roads. So as we have no connection with it whatsoever, this question arises. It could never arise before when it was the only symbol."

Osho : Differences have come about because of symbols. A Mohammed cannot conceive of a Buddha's symbol. It is impossible! The environments of the two were so different. Even the word god can be a burden if it is not conceived of as a symbol that corresponds to your individuality. For example, Mohammed could not conceive of God as compassion. Compassion did not exist anywhere in his environment. Everything was so terrifying, so dangerous, that God had to be conceived of differently. Crossing from one country to the next, slaughtering, the people in Mohammed's environment could not conceive of a God that was not cruel. An un-cruel God, a compassionate God, would have been unreal to them because the concept wouldn't have corresponded to their reality.

To a Hindu, God is seen through the environment. The nature is beautiful, the soil is fertile; the race is deeply rooted in the earth. Everything is flowing and flowing in a particular direction, and the movement is very slow, just like the Ganges. It is not terrifying and dangerous. So the Hindu god is bound to be a Krishn, dancing and playing on his flute. This image comes from the environment and from the racial mind and its experiences.

Because Yog developed in an agricultural society, it has agricultural symbols: a flower, a snake, etcetera -- but they are just symbols. Buddha did not even talk about Kundalinee, but if he had, he would not have talked about serpent power; nor would Mahaaveer have talked about it. They came from royal families: the symbols that were congenial to other people were not congenial to them.They used other symbols.

Buddha and Mahaaveer came from royal palaces. The snake was not a reality there. But to the peasants it was a great reality, one could not remain unacquainted with it. And it was dangerous too; one had to be aware of it. But to Buddha and Mahaaveer it was not a reality at all.

Buddha could not talk of snakes; he talked of flowers. Flowers were known to him, more known to him than to anybody else. He had seen many flowers, but only living ones. The palace gardeners were instructed by his father to see that no dying flower would be seen by him, Gautam. He was to see only young flowers, so the whole night the gardens were prepared for him. In the morning when he came, not a dead leaf, not a dead flower, could be seen, only flowers coming to life.

So flowering was a reality to him in a way in which it is not to us. Then when he came to his realization, he spoke about it as a process of flowers and flowers, opening and opening. The reality is something else, but the metaphor comes from Buddha.

These metaphors are not unreal, they are not just poetry. They correspond to your nature; you belong to them, they belong to you. The denial of symbols has proved drastic and dangerous. You have denied and denied everything that is not materially real, and rituals and symbols have taken their revenge; they come back again, they get through. They are there in your clothes, in your temples, in your poetries, your deeds. The symbols will have their revenge, they will come back. They cannot be denied because they belong to your nature. When it comes to your mind that something has begun to open and flower, you will have to conceive of what is happening in some way. The moment thought comes in, thought brings its own category. So you will say "flowering," you will say "opening," you will say "penetration. " The thing itself can be understood through so many metaphors. The metaphor depends on you, it depends on your mind. And what it depends on, depends on so many things -- for example, your life experiences.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 06/09/11